The term mutation, which has often been used to characterise the contemporary, is now taking on a new and especially critical perceptiveness. Accelerated biological phenomena, on the scale of the entire planet, remind us of the fragility of our human, social and economic organisms. These upheavals, which follow on from one another with a speed never before experienced, cover slower movements that continue uninterrupted. 

Among these developments, some have found a particular echo in the series of images we received last year and this year, particularly those concerning cultural identity, sexual identity and parenthood. The principles that have often been considered as  forever assigned to a territory, a gender, a social status, are frequently called into question, while, on the other hand, reaffirmed aspirations to local, national or family identities are spreading, sometimes in authoritarian forms. The photographers of the 2021 selection, immersed in a world that is intensely their own, are sensitive to these perpetual but particularly acute questions today.

Two series on the immigration of Europeans to South America in the 19th and 20th centuries, and another on the population movements between Germany and Poland after the war, bear witness to the refusal to put down roots ad vitam eternam in the place where we were born, but also to the impossibility of forgetting one's own origin, of erasing all precedence. The complex work of emancipation, when it is a question of not denying origins and traditions, is also to be seen in the case of young Germans with a migrant background. In this issue, we will also see attempts to escape gender determination and a blunt challenge to the often-unambiguous representations of motherhood. Assignment, emancipation: to combine these two terms is to get to the heart of the questions imposed on parenthood. Between the embodiment of the law and holding back, even withdrawal, the function of the father is at the heart of these tensions. Several works presented this year deal with this paternal figure, who is constantly called upon to reassure and protect, and yet condemned to fail, mainly from the perspective of the father/daughter relationship. Mourning, its evolving rites and difficulties are also present in the concerns of several young photographers. The attention to the future of the peripheral territories of the city and of landscapes is perceptible in three proposals, in exhibition or projection. On a more conceptual level, and as is often the case in Boutographies, several series will directly touch on questions of representation through photography, and particularly on the relationship between photography and its referent.

Finally, without being exhaustive about this edition, which brings together sixty authors in total (exhibitions and projections), a large place is reserved for a collective of young French photographers. As a culmination of the question of the shifting of points of reference that we are witnessing on all sides, the VOST group offers us its vision of the metamorphoses and alterations of the period with its installation Proxima B, specially conceived for the large hall of the Pavillon Populaire. As every year, the official selection is extended by the Hors les murs sites scattered around the town and its surroundings, and by those photography events that we are able to maintain within the sanitary context. Amongst these, we would like to mention the retrospective exhibition of the twenty years of the festival, in the Saint Ravy gallery, designed to awaken memories, or to enable you to discover for the first time the major steps and highlights in this long partnership with the stimulating talents of European creative photography.


Mayor of the city of Montpellier, 
President of Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole

Christian Maccotta

The Boutographies Festival is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year with a very fine programme. Initiated in 2001 by a group of photography enthusiasts, this festival has acquired over the years a solid reputation in France and abroad. Throughout these 20 years, more than 474 photographers and 34 countries have been presented, and represent many openings on singular cultures and imaginations.

From 19 to 30 May 2021, the Pavillon Populaire will host the Boutographies for a free double exhibition, presenting the selection of photographic projects chosen by the association Grain d'image for the 2021 call for projects, as well as that of the year 2000, which could not be presented due to the health crisis.

To echo this exhibition, from 19 to 30 May, the Espace Saint-Ravy will present a retrospective exhibition of the festival's 20th anniversary as well as ten years of photographic art acquisitions by the City of Montpellier.

Creative, audacious, original, this is how Montpellier imagines culture. The support of emerging talents and the promotion of contemporary photographers are priorities for the City of Montpellier: the support, since 2001, of the Boutographies is a strong illustration of this.

Michael Delafosse

Christian MACCOTTA

Artistic Director